Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Actor John Heard [herd], perhaps best known as the dad in the first two Home Alone movies, and for an Emmy-nominated role in TV’s The Sopranos, died Friday. California’s Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office confirmed his death to ABC News. Heard was 71, according to the medical examiner, though other sources give his age as 72.

Heard’s rep did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, and the details of his death remain unknown.

Born John Matthew Heard in Washington, D.C., Heard’s more than four-decade career included hundreds of film, television and stage appearances — making him one of those actors whose face was instantly recognizable, even if you couldn’t quite recall his name.

He launched his career with a role in a 1974 off-Broadway production of The Wager, followed by a series of Broadway roles, including his Obie Award-winning performance in Shakespeare’s Othello in 1979.

The role that gave Heard his greatest exposure came when he portrayed dad Peter McCallister in the 1990 family comedy Home Alone and its 1992 sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He also earned an Emmy nomination in 1999 for his guest role on The Sopranos, where he portrayed crooked police Detective Vin Makazian.

Heard’s film career also included roles in 1980s and 1990s classics like Big, Beaches, and The Pelican Brief. Recent TV appearances includes guest roles on NCIS: Los Angeles, Elementary, MacGyver and APB.

Heard, who lived in Studio City, California at the time of his death, is survived by three children.

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(L-R) David Benioff and D. B. Weiss — Getty Images/Steve Granitz(LOS ANGELES) — When HBO announced it would be producing a new series, Confederate, involving an alternate timeline in which the south has seceded and slavery still exists, backlash was pretty severe.

Supergirl actor David Harewood tweeted, “Good luck finding black actors for this project.” And writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “It is exhausting to think of how many people at @HBO said yes to letting two white men envision modern day slavery. And offensive.”

But the show’s creators, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — and their partners in Confederate, the African-American husband and wife writers and producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman — are defending the show and its premise.

Speaking with Vulture, the team said they expected to take fire. “We all knew it was coming in one form or another,” Benioff said. And Malcolm Spellman recalled reacting to the premise by saying, “You’re dealing with weapons-grade material here.”

“It goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history,” Weiss said. “It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways.”

But Confederate, he said is a “science-fiction show,” and as such “…can show us how this history is still with us in a way that strictly realistic drama ever could….”

Nichelle Spellman, who worked on The Good Wife, recalled the team’s original meeting, saying, “I just remember being so excited — and absolutely terrified at the same time.”

“In this futuristic world, you could have this conversation in a straightforward manner without it being steeped in history,” she said.

Nichelle understands people’s concerns but adds, “I wish their concern had been reserved to the night of the premiere…” after they’d seen the program, none of which, the team adds, has even been written yet.

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HBO/Anne Marie Fox

(LOS ANGELES) — With the second season of Insecure set to premiere on Sunday, the cast of the hit HBO series is weighing in on their connection to their characters. In addition to sharing how the show takes a page out of their everyday lives, Issa Rae is also offering her thoughts on how her character Issa Dee will now deal with being single.

“We’re just going to see her kind of filter it a bit more and realize who she doesn’t want to be,” Rae tells ABC Radio. “Given her new single status she’s feeling kind of vulnerable– so we’ll see how she adjusts to her vulnerability.”

Jay Ellis, who plays Issa’s now former boyfriend Lawrence on the show, says even though he and his character have different ideas when it comes to relationships, Lawrence’s character traits are very familiar.

“When I look back at how Lawrence started out, there are a lot of things,” Ellis says of the similarities. “There are the the discourage traits, the down on yourself — those moments when your constantly getting told ‘no’ — where things aren’t going the way you want them to and…you’re not really sure which way to go.”

But, like his character, Ellis says he’s learned how to “bounce back” and “how you get off the ground and go fight the next day.”

Yvonne Orji goes further saying her character Molly’s narrative is taken straight from her experiences.

“We..talked to the writers and we just thought we were having a casual conversation with friends and I think some of the things we shared openly…made its way into the season,” she says.

The actress adds, “Before you know it, your life is in episode four!”

Insecure returns Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET.

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(L-R) “Valerian” director Luc Besson, Rihanna — Credit: Eric Charbonneau

(LOS ANGELES) — Rihanna Navy, get hyped: your girl is landing at your local multiplex this weekend.

The singer stars in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a sci-fi epic from director Luc Besson, based on a popular comic book series. Rihanna plays Bubble, a shape-shifting alien. She says when Besson described the part to her, she was hooked.

“Sci-fi movies are always really fun and this one has such a modern twist,” Rihanna says. “There’s a lot of reality in this world that’s not real, and that’s why I think I was [attracted] to it.”

Rihanna also liked working with Besson, the director of The Fifth Element, The Professional and Lucy, because she says he gave her a lot of help on set.

“He is very patient when it comes to working and directing me because I’m very new to the movie world and he’s very considerate of that,” she explains. “He knows exactly how to get what he wants out of you and that’s what a director is.”

As for Bubble, when we first meet her, she’s being forced to perform for patrons in a space cabaret called Glam Club.

“She’s in this place and she has to perform and the thing that makes her feel free is her performing, her being an artist, her becoming whatever and making people happy in that way,” says Rihanna of Bubble. “She’s an entertainer…She’s very sensitive about her art, as all artists are.”

Rihanna’s previous films include 2012’s ill-received Battleship, and the animated movie Home, in which she voiced the main character. She also had cameos in Annie and This Is the End.

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Getty Images/Taylor Hill(LOS ANGELES) — Kerry Washington is set to be honored for her significant contributions in film and television.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Washington is one of three recipients of the sixth annual Woman Making History awards, an honor given by the National Women’s History Museum to women who have made noticeable contributions in their fields.

In addition to Washington, Instagram COO Marne Levine, and SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell will be honored for their work and their “philanthropic endeavors that support young women.”

The three women will be honored on September 16 during a special brunch event at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“We are extremely proud to honor three women with such innovative and extensive bodies of work,” said NWHM board chair Susan Whiting in a statement. “Kerry Washington broke barriers by becoming the first African-American woman to headline a network TV drama since 1974,” she said of the actress’ role as Olivia Pope on Scandal.

Past honorees include Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sophia Bush, Rachel Zoe and Rita Moreno.

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Disney Channel – 2017(LOS ANGELES) — Sometimes it’s good to be bad. The Villain Kids — aka VKs — are back for more wicked fun in Descendants 2, the sequel to Disney Channel’s popular 2015 film following the sons and daughters of infamous Disney villains.

The story centers around Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay, teens who left their lives on the Isle of the Lost in favor of a better life on the magical land of Auradon. This time around, Mal — Maleficent’s daughter, played by Dove Cameron — finds herself facing off against her nemesis Uma, the daughter of Ursula.

China Anna McClain joins the cast in this film as the scene-stealing Uma.

“Uma is very angry that the four VKs were taken off of the Isle and now get to live in Auradon and have all of this promise and all of this opportunity and she still doesn’t have that,” McClain says. “So, now she’s coming for blood in this movie. She’s getting her revenge.”

Meanwhile, Evie — The Evil Queen’s daughter, played by Sofia Carson — realizes she doesn’t need a prince to give her a happy ending.

“This time around I think she learns a lot about her herself and faces her fear of going back to the Isle and realizing that she can never be ashamed to be who she is,” Carson says.

Director and choreographer Kenny Ortega, who also helmed the popular High School Musical franchise, promises more action, adventure, music and dancing.

“It’s the biggest Disney Channel movie I think we’ve ever made!” Ortega says.

The film, which also stars Cameron Boyce as Carlos the son of Cruella de Vil and Boo Boo Stewart as Jay the son of Jafar, airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on multiple networks and platforms including Disney Channel, ABC, Freeform and Lifetime.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Universal – 2017(NEW YORK) — Kofi Siriboe can confidentially say that one of the highlights of his young life is playing Jada Pinkett Smith’s love interest in the new romantic movie comedy, Girls Trip.

Girls Trip stars Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish as four lifelong friends who travel to New Orleans for an exclusive getaway to reignite their wild sides. Kofi plays Malik, a twenty-one year college kid who becomes Pinkett Smith’s boy toy. He still can’t get over the experience of working with his childhood “crush.”

“It’s been such an experience to work with her so intimately… I’ve watched her since I was a kid,” Siriboe tells ABC Radio. “I have the hugest crush on…Jada Pinkett…Like, that was an amazing experience.”

Siriboe says scoring the role was a much needed “change up” from the “social issues” in Queen Sugar and the serious characters he’s played in the past.

“You know I gave it everything. Because it’s a simple role and it’s a lot lighter than like Ralph Angel [from Queen Sugar] or Kicks — anything that I’ve really done,” he explains. “It’s just like it’s fun. It’s really fun-felt — more than anything my role in the film.”

How does Siriboe sum up his Girls Trip role? “I play twenty-one years old, like, this college frat dude, who’s trying to get him some cougar love!”

Girls Night, which also stars Larenz Tate, Kate Walsh and Mike Colter, is in theaters now.

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Getty Images/Albert L. Ortega(SAN DIEGO) — At Comic-Con, everyone’s a fan, even multimillionaire celebrity superstar actors like Will Smith. Smith was on hand at the annual event in San Diego to promote his new project, Bright — Netflix’s first big foray into splashy action movie territory. But he couldn’t help geeking out about Star Wars like any other Comic-Con attendee.

Smith said his world changed when he saw Star Wars when he was about 10, and he’d never seen anything like it.

“For this generation, you’ve already seen magnificent things in movies and the special effects and what people can do, but when Star Wars came out it was impossible,” the star said. “Like, there weren’t special effects — you couldn’t do that. So, it’s like, we were just completely blown away and for my entire life I’ve been chasing and trying to give that feeling to, to fans.”

He added, emphatically, “I have never been smashed like that in a movie theater. It was like my mind was boggled.”

Smith said he’s built his career on trying to give fans the same experience he had when he first saw Star Wars.

“There was nothing that I had ever experienced in my life that, that matched that point of ecstasy. And, I had sex a few years later, and that was pretty… it was close, I mean close, but no Star Wars, you know, so…”

Smith’s Suicide Squad director David Ayer debuted the full trailer for Bright, which he also directed. Ayer said he loved working with Netflix, while seemingly slamming Suicide Squad, which underwent extensive retooling from Warner Bros. before it was released.

“This isn’t like some b******* PG-13 standard-issue studio movie, I mean, this is like, I was able to do my s*** here, right?” he said. “I was able to really tell a f****** story, OK? I was able to, like, do my thing.”

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(L-R) HARRY STYLES as Alex, ANEURIN BARNARD as Gibson and FIONN WHITEHEAD as Tommy in the Warner Bros. Pictures action thriller “DUNKIRK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.(LOS ANGELES) — Opening nationwide on Friday:

* Dunkirk — Christopher Nolan’s latest thriller tells the true story of Operation Dynamo, which in 1940 evacuated British, Belgian, Canadian and French soldiers from Dunkirk, France, where they were surrounded by the German army. Starring Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and One Direction’s Harry Styles in his acting debut. Rated PG-13.

* Girls Trip — Four lifelong friends — played by Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish — rediscover their wild side during a trip to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival. Rated R. (TRAILER CONTAINS MILD PROFANITY AND SEXUAL CONTENT)

* Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — This sci-fi adventure, based on the popular comic book series, centers on an unknown force that threatens Alpha, home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline — played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, respectively — must find the threat and eliminate it. Also starring Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke and Rihanna. Rated PG-13.

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Lucasfilm – 2017

(LOS ANGELES) — Star Wars actor John Boyega is calling out fantasy shows like Game of Thrones for what he describes as their lack of diversity.

“There are no black people on Game of Thrones,” he said in a new cover story for GQ magazine.

To be fair, HBO’s hit fantasy drama has featured at least two black actors: Jacob Anderson and Nonso Anozie. The series has also cast other actors of color, including Nathalie Emmanuel and Jessica Henwick.

And although Boyega’s hit film fantasy franchise, Star Wars, has featured African-American actors such as Billy Dee Williams and Samuel L. Jackson, he said it’s important for such franchises to think about representation on the big and small screens, especially in completely made-up universes.

“I ain’t paying money to always see one type of person on-screen,” the 25-year-old British actor, who was born to Nigerian parents, said. “Because you see different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, every day. Even if you’re a racist, you have to live with that. We can ruffle up some feathers.”

Author George R.R. Martin, whose fantasy novels where adapted into the Game of Thrones series, has previously addressed the issue in connection to his written stories.

“Westeros around 300 AC is nowhere near as diverse as 21st century America, of course,” he wrote about the fictional Game of Thrones world on his blog in 2014 , “but with that being said, I do have some ‘characters of color’ who will have somewhat larger roles in [his forthcoming novel] WINDS OF WINTER. Admittedly, these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance.”

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